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Author Topic: another poison question
wetwilly
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So I need a poison for my book, and I thought I'd check the knowledge pool here at Hatrack. I don't necessarily need the specific name of a poison that would do this, although, if you know, I certainly wouldn't mind. What I want to know is, is it even feasible for ANY poison to do this?

Here's how the poison acts: It is given to somebody via injection some time in the evening. The person goes to bed, and during the night the poison makes them suffer intensely, and the person dies from it some time the next morning. The pain that the poison causes could even start immediately, but that's not necessary. The story is set in the future, so I can just invent my own poison if I need to. Like I said, I just want to know if it is feasible for any poison to do what I just described.

Any help you could offer would be, well, helpful.


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J
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Sure thing. Could be a bacteria, like tetanus (not tetanus, though, it would be too slow), whose waste is a toxin. As the bacteria multiplies, the level of toxin and pain increases, until death occurs.
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wetwilly
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Good call. Thanks, J.
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nitewriter
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You might look into some of the snake venoms. These venoms break down tissue, blood or act on nerves - some venoms all three. Death is bad enough from these venoms, but by diluting the poison you could lengthen the suffering. Just a thought.
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Leigh
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You said your story is set in the future, so why not use technology as the poison with nanobytes? I know nanobytes would require knowledge and research but you could also say that these nanobytes have a organic system where they break down once their programming is complete, leaving no trace that they were there. Hope this helps.
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franc li
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Is it necessary to the plot that the course of the poison be anticipated? Like the electric noseplug in MI:III?
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Survivor
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What the heck is a nanobyte? I mean...I guess that it makes sense as an expression of how @!$^&^ slow a buggy wireless connection is..."my connection speed is down to about a nanobyte per second!" But irritating as that might be, I doubt that it could cause death...unless the person you were killing was, you know, dependent on high bandwidth networked computers. Like Jane. Isn't that how Starways Congress tried to off her? It's a lot more brutal when you think of it as "nanobyte poisoning" rather than "switching off all the computers at once".

Anyway, tetanus can be pretty fast, depending on the actual amount of bacteria you inject. Pit vipers produce a cell-destroying venom which causes intense pain, but the up-front pain is a bit much for anyone to just go to bed. You could combine it with a nerve toxin that made it difficult for them to do anything else, though. A poison cocktail of various agents would be a nice idea and allow you to tailor your symptoms, though some wouldn't mix well with others. Add some of that flesh eating staph or a tailored bug if you want to make full use of your "this is the future" powers. A tailored bug is even better than the poison cocktail as far as making up your own symptoms goes. Not so good in the general plausibility department, but if you're far enough in the future and the killer has enough money to spend on it, it works.


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GalaxyGal
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Striychnine is an oldie, but goodie.

What strychnine is:

 Strychnine is a white, odorless, bitter crystalline powder that can be taken by mouth, inhaled (breathed in), or mixed in a solution and given intravenously (injected directly into a vein).
 Strychnine is a strong poison; only a small amount is needed to produce severe effects in people. Strychnine poisoning can cause extremely serious adverse health effects, including death.
Where strychnine is found and how it is used
 The primary natural source of strychnine is the plant Strychnos nux vomica. This plant is found in southern Asia (India, Sri Lanka, and East Indies) and Australia.
 In the past, strychnine was available in a pill form and was used to treat many human ailments.
 Today, strychnine is used primarily as a pesticide, particularly to kill rats.
 Uncommonly, strychnine is found mixed with “street” drugs such as LSD, heroin, and cocaine.
How you could be exposed to strychnine
 Following release of strychnine into water, you could be exposed by drinking contaminated water.
 Following contamination of food with strychnine, you could be exposed by eating the contaminated food.
 It is also possible to absorb strychnine through the membranes in the nose, eyes, or mouth. For example, a person could be poisoned by inhaling strychnine powder that has been released in the air.
 Strychnine could be smoked or snorted as a component of street drugs.
 Poisoning has been reported from strychnine given intravenously and through the nose.
How strychnine works
 The extent of poisoning caused by strychnine depends on the amount and route of strychnine exposure and the person’s condition of health at the time of the exposure.
 Strychnine prevents the proper operation of the chemical that controls nerve signals to the muscles. The chemical controlling nerve signals works like the body’s “off switch” for muscles. When this “off switch” does not work correctly, muscles throughout the body have severe, painful spasms. Even though the person’s consciousness or thinking are not affected at first (except that the person is very excitable and in pain), eventually the muscles tire and the person can’t breathe.

Immediate signs and symptoms of strychnine exposure

 Following the ingestion (swallowing) of strychnine, symptoms of poisoning usually appear within 15 to 60 minutes.
 People exposed to low or moderate doses of strychnine by any route will have the following signs or symptoms:
 Agitation
 Apprehension or fear
 Ability to be easily startled
 Restlessness
 Painful muscle spasms possibly leading to fever and to kidney and liver injury
 Uncontrollable arching of the neck and back
 Rigid arms and legs
 Jaw tightness
 Muscle pain and soreness
 Difficulty breathing
 Dark urine
 Initial consciousness and awareness of symptoms
 People exposed to high doses of strychnine may have the following signs and symptoms within the first 15 to 30 minutes of exposure:
 Respiratory failure (inability to breathe), possibly leading to death
 Brain death
 Showing these signs and symptoms does not necessarily mean that a person has been exposed to strychnine.
What the long-term health effects are

If the person survives the toxic effects of strychnine poisoning, long-term health effects are unlikely. However, long-term effects may result from damage caused by the poisoning (for example, brain damage from low oxygen, kidney failure). People severely affected by strychnine poisoning are not likely to survive


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Slartibartfast
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Don't you mean 'nanobot' ?
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Survivor
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They still sell strychnine pills, the dose is really low (low enough that it would be very difficult to poison anyone with them) and they don't call them "Strychnine", but you can get them. I'm just saying.
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wetwilly
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What do they call them, Survivor?
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Survivor
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Usually they call them Nux Vomica, it sounds like a horrible name, but it's more appealing than "strychnine".
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franc li
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Where could I find out how much potassium cyanide it would take to kill an elderly man? I'm remembering 1500 ccs, but that seems like too much.
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hoptoad
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I would suggest strychnine too.
Also perhaps an extract of hellebore.


Does this poison ever get identified in your story?


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Max Masterson
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Nux Vomica is actually supposed to be good for preventing something. I had no idea it was strychnine. My ex-wife took it for years (and it wasn't my idea she have it...though if I'd none it was a poison I might have suggested it lol). Unfortunately it never did her any harm.
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BruceWayne1
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the nano-bot are sometimes called Nanites. microscopically small robots that can be programed to work inside the body, usually for good but good be reprogrammed
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Survivor
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Homeopathic Nux Vomica contains such minuscule amounts of stychnine that you could eat it like candy without ever feeling any toxic effects...other than the sensation of having eaten a bunch of expensive little sugar pills.

The CDC page on cyanides says 1-2 milligrams per kilo of bodyweight is probably an immediately fatal dose. 1500 ccs might refer to how much cyanide gas you would need to inhale to die...though even that seems quite excessive, if we're talking about the pure gas. Maybe someone just got their conversions all messed up and made a couple of order of magnitude errors.


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franc li
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Well it was in solution and taken voluntarily, so he probably diluted it a lot.
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Survivor
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Solution...you mean he drank a liter and a half of poison? I can't drink that much water in one sitting.
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hoptoad
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depends what you're sitting on...
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Survivor
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Um, no. I can't drink anything while sitting there. That's just wrong.
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tigertinite
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Depending on your character (personality, access to hazardous chemicals, etc . . .) you could even opt for the overdose of a mineral that would normally be found around the area, injecting antifreeze into your veins is just as deadly as any exotic poison that you can come up with, not to mention easier to get a hold of.
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Survivor
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Yeah, but it's not progressive. It would tend to kill immediately or not at all.
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RMatthewWare
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If you're writing scifi or fantasy you can invent any poison you want. That might be a wise decision, because any real substance you use will have restrictions. You may have readers that are familiar with the real poison and say you got it wrong. I think it's safer to invent your own poison, how it works, quantity needed (in other words, even a fake poison needs real rules).

Matt


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franc li
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quote:
Solution...you mean he drank a liter and a half of poison? I can't drink that much water in one sitting.

That's exactly what I thought. Maybe he just prepared that much of it, since he was not in a state of mind to cut the recipe accurately. Well, they didn't tell a concentration, so I'll probably go with 500 ccs.

And I know you could drink a 1500 ccs of egg nog. You'd probably vomit after,


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dreadlord
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considered Arsenic? or maybe Iocane Powder, from the Princess bride anyway, just develop a poison or something. Like on Sar Wars: attack of the clones. didnt He invent the Kamino poison?
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